Shopping on Big Island

By Team

The shopping centers on Hawaii’s Big Island feature a few familiar names, while many stores and boutiques are unique to the islands. Kailua-Kona, Waimea and Hilo are the primary shopping districts while smaller towns, such as Hawi and Kapaʻau in North Kohala, and Honokaʻa on the Hamakua Coast, add a unique flavor to the shopping experience. Finding the perfect Big Island souvenir could take you on a treasure hunt from one end of the island to the other. So here’s a mini-guide to get you headed in the right direction.

Ali’i Drive, Kailua-Kona’s answer to Rodeo Drive, is wall-to-wall shopping. Wander through the small shops and find island wear, sandals, gifts, jewelry and art. The entire district is laid out along the curve of Kailua Bay where ocean activity tours beckon.

Slightly off the beaten path but still on Ali’i Drive is an outdoor market called Ali’i Gardens Marketplace. This market favors local craftsmen, who sell everything from handmade arts and crafts, to aloha wear clothing, original jewelry, Kona coffee and fresh produce.

Resort shopping is available in high density resort areas like the Kohala Coast. Two of the newest destinations are the Queens’ Gardens at the Waikoloa Beach Resort and The Shops at Mauna Lani. The Kings Shops, in Waikoloa, also offers a selection of upscale resort shopping and dining. Smaller towns, like Hawi and Kapaʻau in North Kohala, and Honokaʻa on the Hamakua Coast, add a unique flavor to the shopping experience.

Hilo Hattie, with stores in Kona and Hilo, is known for its large selection of Hawaiian fashions. The store may be the only place in the Islands that stocks sizes up to 5XL.

Just outside Kailua-Kona is a shopping center with a grand view of tranquil Keauhou Bay. The Keauhou Shopping Center is home to a variety of apparel and gift shops, restaurants, entertainment venues and food markets. Its merchants offer a variety of one-of-a-kind items, some only available at the center itself. Holualoa Village can’t be described as a mall. In fact, it’s hard to describe this destination at all. Holualoa, a short and scenic drive from  Kailua-Kona, is set in Kona coffee country and features a collection of galleries and shops with friendly proprietors and intriguing, original merchandise.  A visit to Holualoa is one of those off-the-mall experiences that leaves one glad to be alive.

The Hilo Shopping Center, just minutes from the airport, is a refreshing oasis from overcrowded malls. Enjoy lunch or dinner at one of five restaurants or relax with a cup of gourmet coffee. There’s a large natural foods store and a variety of apparel shops along with a travel agency, an eyeglass repair shop, a pharmacy and financial services. The shopping center is located at the corner of Kekuanaoa and Kilauea streets.

The largest shopping destination on the Hilo side of the island is Prince Kuhio Plaza. Here, you’ll find your standard mall stores, restaurants and a movie theater.

Along the way, watch for standard favorites including Kona coffee and macadamia nuts, locally-grown products for which the “Orchid Isle” is world famous.  The intricate art of weaving lauhala and coconut leaves is alive and well, with hats, bowls and mats that are beautiful as well as useful.  And don’t forget the perennial favorites—orchids, anthuriums, and other exotic blooms from the numerous Big Island flower growers.

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